The conductor David Hill talks to choral conductor David Recca (M.M.A. ‘14, D.M.A. ‘18) and cornetto virtuoso Bruce Dickey, two members of a team that newly transcribed and edited a Palestrina Mass that had been gathering dust for more than four hundred and twenty-five years.
We will hear a movement from the work as performed by Yale Schola Cantorum in a recording on the Hyperion Label.
David Hill has a long and distinguished career as one of Europe’s leading conductors. He has held appointments as chief conductor of the BBC Singers, musical director of The Bach Choir, chief conductor of Southern Sinfonia, music director of Leeds Philharmonic Society, and associate guest conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. He has been awardee an honorary doctorate by the University of Southampton, and Honorary Fellowship of the Royal School of Church Music, and an honorary membership of the Royal Academy of Music. He has a long list of conducting credits and an extensive discography. On the Yale faculty since 2013, he serves as principal conductor of Yale Schola Cantorum, and participates in the training of student choral conductors. | David Hill’s website
David J. Recca is known for his commitment and passion for historically informed performances of music written before 1750. He is the recently appointed artistic director and conductor of Southern Connecticut Camerata, a Norwalk-based early music ensemble, and assistant director of the New Amsterdam Singers, a fixture in Manhattan’s choral scene, which has been championing new works by living composers for more than 40 seasons. He has also served as assistant conductor of Mercury Opera Rochester, principal assistant conductor of the Yale Camerata, and artistic director of Madrigalia Via, whose performances were hailed as “sinfully blissful” by the Wall Street Journal. Recca has prepared choirs for such conductors as Helmuth Rilling, David Hill, Masaaki Suzuki, Simon Carrington, Erwin Ortner, and Sir Gilbert Levine.
Bruce Dickey is one of a handful of musicians worldwide who have dedicated themselves to reviving the cornetto - once an instrument of great virtuosi, but which lamentably fell into disuse in the 19th century. The revival began in the 1950s, but it was largely Bruce Dickey, who, from the late 1970s, created a new renaissance of the instrument, allowing the agility and expressive power of the cornetto to be heard once again. His many students, over 40 years of teaching at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, have helped to consolidate and elevate the status of this once forgotten instrument. For his achievements the Historic Brass Society awarded him in 2000 the prestigious Christopher Monk Award for “his monumental work in cornetto performance, historical performance practice and musicological scholarship.” In 2007 he was honored by British conductor and musicologist Andrew Parrott with a “Taverner Award” as one of 14 musicians whose “significant contributions to musical understanding have been motivated by neither commerce nor ego.”
In the course of his long career as a performer and recording artist he has worked with most of the leading figures in the field of early music, including the legendary pioneers of historically informed perfomance, Gustav Leonhardt, Frans Brüggen and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. He was a member for over ten years of Jordi Savall’s Hesperion XX, and has frequently and repeatedly collaborated with Ton Koopman, Monica Huggett, Philippe Herreweghe and many others. Of special importance has been his long-time friendship and collaboration with Andrew Parrott, and in more recent years with Konrad Junghänel.
Bruce Dickey can be heard on countless recordings. His solo CD (“Quel lascivissimo cornetto…”) on Accent with the ensemble Tragicomedia was awarded the Diapason d’or and was chosen in 2017 by Diapason as one of the 100 best CDs of Baroque Music of the past half century. His second solo CD, entitled La Bella Minuta, was released on the Passacaille label in 2011, and was described as, “simply a brilliant recording”. Sample tracks can be heard, and the CD purchased, on the website of the record label by clicking here. His latest solo CD, Breathtaking, together with Czech soprano Hana Blažíková, has received rave reviews.
In addition to performing, Bruce is much in demand as a teacher, both of the cornetto and of seventeenth-century performance practice. In addition to his regular class at the Schola Cantorum he has taught at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, and the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, as well as master classes in the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan. He is also active in research on performance practice, and has published, together with Michael Collver, a catalog of the surviving cornetto repertoire, and, together with trumpeter Edward Tarr, a book on historical wind articulation. In 1997, together with his wife Candace Smith, he founded Artemisia Editions, a small publishing house which produces editions of music from 17th-century Italian convents.
Yale Schola Cantorum is a chamber choir that performs sacred music from the sixteenth century to the present day in concert settings and choral services around the world. It is sponsored by Yale Institute of Sacred Music and conducted by David Hill; Masaaki Suzuki is principal guest conductor. Open by audition to students from all departments and professional schools across Yale University, the choir has a special interest in historically informed performance practice, often in collaboration with instrumentalists from Juilliard415.
Schola was founded in 2003 by Simon Carrington. In recent years, the choir has also sung under the direction of internationally renowned conductors Matthew Halls, Simon Halsey, Paul Hillier, Stephen Layton, Sir Neville Marriner, Nicholas McGegan, James O’Donnell, Stefan Parkman, Krzysztof Penderecki, Helmuth Rilling, and Dale Warland. In addition to performing regularly in New Haven and New York, the ensemble records and tours nationally and internationally. Schola’s 2018 recording on the Hyperion label featuring Palestrina’s Missa Confitebor tibi Domine has garnered enthusiastic reviews. A live recording of Heinrich Biber’s 1693 Vesperae longiores ac breviores with Robert Mealy and Yale Collegium Musicum received international acclaim from the early music press, as have subsequent CDs of J. S. Bach’s rarely heard 1725 version of the St. John Passion and Antonio Bertali’s Missa resurrectionis. A recording on the Naxos label of Mendelssohn and Bach Magnificats was released in 2009, and recent years have seen the release of two CDs by Delos Records. Most recently, Hyperion released Schola Cantorum performing a chamber version of the Brahms Requiem; recordings of the music of Roderick Williams and Reena Esmail are forthcoming. On tour, Schola Cantorum has given performances in England, Hungary, France, China, South Korea, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Japan, Singapore, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, India, Spain, and Scandinavia.